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Are Spouse Hater Pages on Facebook Illegal?

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

For the past couple of years, there has been a Facebook group that purposely targets spouses by calling them names such as "dependa" or "benefit chaser." It even goes as far as posting pictures of people with made-up stories.

I've personally seen how it has hurt relationships and individuals. The page was taken down by Facebook once already. The owner, who says he is a servicemember, made a new page and is hellbent on disrespecting spouses.

I know you can unlike a page, but as a spouse who has been around for nine years, this page can hurt new spouses.

It can hurt those spouses who want to support their husbands by wearing a shirt saying "Proud Army Wife" or use a sticker that states "Proud Air Force Wife."

Since this page is run by a servicemember and has already been labeled as a hate group by Facebook officials, can't the servicemember (the owner) be punished under the UCMJ?

I know I'm not the only one who is beyond disgusted with this page, so any help would be appreciated.

Sincerely,
Annoyed by Immaturity

Dear Annoyed,

Honestly, I have never heard of this Facebook page. It is such a shame that people waste their time on pettiness when there is so much good to be done in the world.

To get some answers for you, I consulted a JAG officer (who prefers to remain anonymous) to get background on this issue.

He took a look at the pages and said that there was nothing really there that would cause him to advise any commander to take any action whatsoever.

“They were small-minded and puerile, but nothing that a reasonably healthy person would get spun up about,” said the JAG. “The attacks were not violent nor even all that vile. More importantly, not a single person was identified. The site does insult the class of military spouses in about the same way just about EVERY class of person is insulted somewhere in this society.”

As a spouse, you should also know that commanders have the ultimate power to decide what to prosecute or not to prosecute under the UCMJ. Usually commanders punish a servicemember when the actions of that servicemember bring discredit to the unit or the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard.

This is especially true if the action attacks the good order and discipline of their unit in particular.

Remember also that this Facebook account could belong to anyone. The person isn’t necessarily a member of the military even if they say that they are.

People say harsh things and even act irrationally to draw attention to themselves. Think about it, controversy causes books to sell, motivates movie viewers, builds radio audiences, and causes reality television to soar in viewers.

Believe me, this person wants their Facebook page to be more popular so they want more interaction on their page even if it's negative.

 In the world we live in, the negativity could make this person more interesting and even rich. It happens. On the other hand, we don't want this to happen.

The only recourse military spouses and servicemembers have is to stay off this Facebook page. Don't post comments, don't rebut or refute their posts. Avoid it like a plague. As my grandmother use to say to me: “Vicki, small minds say small things.”

Be bigger than that.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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